Victory in New York City RICO Case

We represented one of the defendants Charles Wells, a Kentucky cigarette wholesaler, in a defense against claims brought by the City of New York under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The case involves claims by the City of New York that 32 individuals, and eight entities, violated RICO by, among other things, conspiring to conduct the affairs of an enterprise (engaged in selling cigarettes over the Internet) through a pattern of racketeering; the defendants allegedly all intended to prevent the New York City from collecting cigarette taxes. The City sought to recover in excess of $19.5 million. We were the only defendant to move for summary judgment against the City, and the court granted our motion. In granting summary judgment to Wells, the court agreed that the evidence showed that the alleged conspiracy did not exist because the alleged joint enterprise never existed, given that most defendants acted independently rather than jointly in dealing with another tobacco wholesaler named Chavez. The City has appealed to the Second Circuit, where the case remains pending.

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